In a newly published report by the Church Commissioners CoE investment fund managers (CoE), the potential for 9000 new homes has been confirmed across 60 different sites owned by the Church of England.
The excess land amounts to a total of 2,670 hectares across England. The head of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justine Welby is said to be in support of making church owned land available for the development of a total of 9,000 new homes, including 2,500 affordable houses.
Archbishop Welby said: “Britain’s housing crisis is one of the major challenges facing this country – and it is hitting the poorest the hardest. While there is already significant work being done to find solutions, the church has something unique to contribute.”
The CoE report also highlights that there is 40,648 hectares of excess land owned by the Church of England that could be earmarked to create more affordable housing.
To date, the Church Commissioners group is responsible for investing circa £525m into housing in England.
Seven case studies for new housing development projects in England are referenced in the report, where the CoE has already started new build schemes.
One such project the report refers to is a new housing scheme in Essex, where the contractor Newham Deanery is working in partnership with the Greater London Authority (GLA) on the ‘Innovation Project’ in Chelmsford.
The construction of a further 600 affordable homes on sites owned by the Church of England is underway in Waltham Forest, Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge and Havering.
Leaders involved in heading up the Church Commission include Charlie Arbuthnot, a specialist advisor on financing social housing and the Bishop of Kensington Graham Tomlin, who raised awareness for housing needs following the Grenfell tower disaster.
The CoE’s report includes an introduction from Mr Tomlin: “The Grenfell Tower disaster became almost at once a symbol of our country’s housing crisis. The church – working with other public, private and voluntary organisations that share this vision – has a significant contribution to make in this area.
“We have land and resources that can be used to help meet the need for more affordable housing. We have social capital that can be used to uphold people’s right to a decent and secure home.”